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Footnotes-Del Acevedo

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From the time he joined the IA in 1955 to his retirement 40 years later, Del Acevedo never stopped working, or perfecting his craft of makeup. His story (like that of many artisans of the era who found success in the business) is one of hard work, dues, timing and skill.Discharged from the U.S. Navy after service in World War II and Korea, Acevedo began his career with lab work at Universal. Under the tutelage of department head face-fixers Pat McNally and Gordon Hubbard, the intern had a long list of skills to perfect in order to learn his trade. Everything from sculpting to color theory to prosthesis to hygiene was part of the maquillage syllabus. Getting his first major gig in 1956 from Bud Westmore and Jack Kevan, Acevedo was tasked with extras duties (minding their wigs and beards) on Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Forays in early television on Death Valley Days (powdering Ronald Regan) and Branded (with Chuck Connors) followed. Preferring features, however, he pursued work made for the big screen.By 1966, Acevedo had come into his own, first chairing The Sand Pebbles and Nevada Smith back to back. On Sand Pebbles, the makeup man recalled, “I gave Steve McQueen that buzz-cut sailors had in the 1920s. Nobody got it at first, especially Jay Seebring (McQueen’s own hair guy), until they saw the dailies. Steve’s look worked so well, the hair was never mentioned again.”Reputation met opportunity when Del was called to replace an ill Vince Callahan on the film Patton. Having done Flim Flam Man with George C. Scott in 1967, the two were already fast friends. Acevedo remembers, “MGM was being cheap and didn’t want to bring me to Spain to do the picture. George heard about the studio’s attitude and told the brass, unless they hired me, there would be trouble. Needless to say, I got the plane ticket and the job.” After Patton, the professional marriage between the two spanned their careers, lasting over 25 features. “George was a pleasure”, Del said warmly, “plus a great actor!”Reducing Acevedo’s history to stars McQueen and Scott would be telling only part of the story. With credits like Valley of the Dolls, Sleeper, The Poseidon Adventure, Hello Dolly, King Kong, The Deer Hunter, and The Sound of Music, his resume could fill a volume. He worked alongside a prestigious group of A-list directors and talent throughout his “gold card” career.These days, Del Acevedo volunteers with both the Veteran’s Administration as well as the Motion Picture Home, to give back to the community. An extremely fit fellow of 80, he continues to work occasionally in the industry for friends. In parting, he offered this advice to the future crop of makeup artists. “Hygiene,” he said, “should be the golden rule. Wash your hands constantly. Clean your tools often. Police your workstations. Then, wash your hands again!”

Written by Jim Udel

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